Student Work on Poets

Group members: Ian, John, Robyn and George
Poet/Poem: Jim Barnes - The Sawdust War

4 stanzas
Meter - 5 stressed in each line

No apparent rhyme pattern

The poem is about a ten year old boy--assumed to be the author--who is playing "war" during World War II.

At the beginning of the poem, the boy is excited to be playing out the war that he hears about on the radio. But near the end of the poem his play area is destroyed in a fire. We felt that this probably represented the boy's finally realizing that war is not a game, and the fact that he feels ashamed at the end of the poem comes from his realization that war affects people in adverse ways. The fire represents the destruction of his old way of thinking, as he cannot go back to the way it was.

Group: Samantha ‘s group
Poet/Poem: Mary TallMountain - There Is No Word For Goodbye

Structure: The poem is free verse. It has a visual structure, with indented lines after the first line of each stanza.

Style: TallMountain uses strong imagery as well as similes to describe the setting of the poem. She uses short lines and simple language to express her strong but simple message.

Substance: The poem is between a young woman and an older, wise woman (possibly her grandmother). The poem may relate to the period in TallMountain's life just before she was adopted by a white family.

Belief: The poem expresses the Athabaskan's belief that when a person physically leaves his or her community, the person's spirit still remains with the community. The wise woman also may be telling the narrator that although the narrator may be leaving her home, her people and culture will always be a part of her.

Group: Calita’s group
Poet/Poem: “Under the Tent” by Jim Barns

The poem rhymes the second and fourth for the first three stanzas the rest is free verse made up of 8 stanzas four lines each
Meter ~ 7 syllables stressed in each line

Creative descriptions of actions and people
Reflective of adolescence mischief

Narrative of boys sneaking into a war movie

“Such ecstasy of risk”
He enjoyed the simple risks of youth and the thrill that he gained that allowed him to escape reality.

Group: Michaella’s group
Poet/Poem: “The Cabin on Nanny Ridge” by Jim Barnes

Some rhyming with 6 lines to every verse. Sounds are repeated. Free verse.

The words are very clear and precise and descriptive. No flowery language.

Poem is about growing up during WWII and looking back on that time and remembering the innocence of those days of youth. A cabin is being built by a family and friends because they talk as much as they work. It seems that the people in the poem are protected, innocent and naive for the time being. Life is simple and natural with no "clock time." But time is important in this poem because it is mentioned in very stanza. Time slipped away from the writer.

The perspective of the poem is a memorial for the safety and feelings of childhood. This poem shows how things change as we grow up and that memories will not die, but people will be around to see the decay of things they once knew.

Group: Evangelina, Morgan, Karen, Keith, Jeremy
Poet/Poem: "Wild Strawberries" by Maurice Kenny

free verse
stress is place on the first few words of every stanza, but no set meter
2 primary, 5 sub stanzas

the poem uses these devices:
time (past & present)

In the present, there are negative overtones and a sense of unhappiness. This was also written during a time Kenny was ill.

The "meat" of the poem regresses to the past; a better time for the author.

It's about a journey, point A to point B and what happens at point B. It's a poem about reflection.

He mentions his mother (reflected in the past), and uses various literary devices to describe how strawberries taste in the present and the past. There is a comparison to “woody strawberries” and “juices without color or sweetness” (248) and reflects to a time when the “juices [are] running down the roots of [their] mouths and [their] joy.” (249). The strawberries have a healing power, as he mentions in the past but the berry lacks attributes of healing in the present. He mentions competition with nature (i.e. blue birds) in obtaining the strawberries and this shows a fight/struggle for survival.

There is also a relationship between people- “Mexican farmers” in the present are foreign to him and gives the reader a glimpse into a possible notion that the unfamiliar also alienates. You can’t find strawberry patches in a city, but he speaks of the wild berries and “the little people in a quarry” handle the strawberries. The strawberries do not possess the same healing power when picked by someone else.

Maurice Kenny strongly believes in his story. He believes that he traveled a long distance (if he remembers he is traveling from Upstate to Brooklyn, the trip takes about 7 ½ hours; longer by bus) and that he has gone from point A to point B and reached his destination. We believe in his words. That there is some satisfaction when you pick a berry for yourself. However, we do not believe in the time and place since it removes us from what he truly speaks of. He gives us a wide open space to believe in the past.